The end of the 19th chapter

“Dinner is ready in the dining room, your majesty.” said Mee, and turned to lead the way.

“I want the parrot to be with me at dinner.” said Rhoda. And Mee took the pole with the parrot at its end and stepped with it into the dining room. On the table in the dining room, there were a lot of steaming dishes, and in each of them, there was some kind of dish with an appetizing smell and delicious colors.

Rhoda sat at the table, and for a long time was mostly busy with the food, stopping eating only to give the parrot bits and pieces that she thought might interest it, and which he took from her with a condemnatory stare, but silently. When Rhoda leaned back at the end of the meal, with that comfortable feeling that one feels at the end of a specially good and filling meal, she turned to the parrot and told it “Hey, owl, I still need to give you a name.”

The parrot snorted and didn’t answer her. She tried again:

“Hey parrot, is there a name that you prefer to be called? Think carefully, because if you do not like it later, you will not be able to change it.”

The parrot still didn’t answer, but started pecking his feathers with a movement that made it look thoughtful, so Rhoda left it alone and drank the aromatic drink that Mee had brought her.

“Whhhaaa! Ahithophel.” Said the parrot after a few minutes.

“Are you sure? It is not such a flattering name.” Rhoda said, smiling. “Are you certain that you want me to think of the counsel of Ahithophel, which means a really not good advice, every time I call you?”

“Whhhaaa! Yes.” Answered the parrot. “This way you can only blame your own stupidity every time you listen to my advice.”

Rhoda laughed out loud. “There is no doubt, Ahithophel, that in any case I will blame my stupidity. But it is not certain that only my stupidity will be blamed! If the advice I will listen to will be especially bad, I might be tempted to put the blame on you too, so be careful with what you suggest to me.”

“Whhhaaa! I suggest that you will not go on talking to me tonight.” said the parrot, pecking between the toes of its leg after each word.

This time Rhoda laughed so much that she almost cried. “I accept the counsel of Ahithophel for tonight, and I think it will not cost you so dearly.” she said when she managed to catch her breath again.

She turned to Mee and said “Please put Mr. Ahithophel in his cage, and cover it with a black cloak, so that he will sleep well tonight.”

Mee did as she was asked, and not long after sending Ahithophel to sleep, Rhoda went to sleep as well.

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The new parrot


The begining of the 19th chapter.


When Rhoda entered through the palace doors, there was a pole made of a golden metal near the entrance, and at its head there was a rod parallel to the floor. On it she saw, with great pleasure, the big parrot she had asked for: green colored, with a little bit of a yolky yellow color at the tips of its feathers, and a red beak. She turned to it and said “Good evening mister owl.”

“Whhhaaa!” it answered her promptly “I am a pretty parrot and not a colorless owl! Don’t be more stupid than you are!”

“You may be a pretty parrot” she told him with a bit of resentment “but very far from being polite! If I was not stupid enough to ask for you, you wouldn’t even exist! So you better think well on what you intend to say, if you don’t want me to ask that you will disappear!”

“Whhhaaa! If you will do that, you will be stupid as well as not nice! and you will have no one to talk with!” the parrot answered her boldly, and Rhoda understood that the parrot, as opposed to Belshazzar and Mee, will not necessarily agree with her and will not do everything she will tell it. A feeling of great freedom came over her.

Rhoda felt that what she really missed was someone who will argue with her, but will not be in a threatening position towards her. She was tired of all this ‘as you wish’ and ‘your majesty’. She wanted someone or something that will not necessarily do as she wished.

“It might well be,” she answered the parrot “but in that case there will be no one around me who will tell me that I am like that! You have the greatest luck – because I am nicer than I am stupid and willing to suffer a parrot like you, who is more pretty than courteous!”

When Rhoda saw it intended to answer her she said “Now it is best that you will shut up, or I will order that you be put in a cage and turn off the light!”

For a moment it seemed as if the parrot intended to answer her, because it opened its beak, but all that it said was “Whhhaaa! Parrot wants a biscuit.”

And immediately Mee stood beside her, with a plate full of biscuits, and Rhoda took one from it and gave it to the parrot, who took it from her hand, turned to deal with it and did not say another word.

Allways look at the bright side of life


The second part of the 18th chapter

Rhoda tried to remember what length of time had she really been on the island, before the demons had taken her. She didn’t have any success at all. When she tried to remember, the dreams appeared like spots of light on a dark floor, that has very clear boundaries, and around them the floor looks even darker. Any attempt she made to go a little further beyond the edges of the lighted patches, ended with a feeling of diving into deep darkness, and with a deep sense of loss.

“I wonder” Rhoda said when she thought about her first dream “What was the purpose of the voyage on which I was kidnapped? And who was onboard, except the girls that were with me and the crew of the ship?”

After she had thought for a few more minutes, she said “It is clear that it happened after the night of the comet’s first appearance. But I don’t have an inkling of an idea if it is a long time after that night or just a short time after it.”

Mee listened and nodded, and then said “That means it might be that you weren’t with the pirates a full year and a half, your majesty, and that the ring might have been hidden for less than a year.”

“If so, it is interesting to know what happened between the night in which the comet showed and the day in which I was kidnapped.” Rhoda hoped that maybe if she would say it out loud, something of the things that happened to her would gleam in the dark, and was disappointed again. It was clear to her, that at least for the meanwhile, she will discover nothing new this way.

While they were speaking, Rhoda and Mee wandered through the garden in a random walk, now they approached the grape arbor which Rhoda saw on her first day in the palace. She went into it. The sun was already low above the horizon. Rhoda told Mee “I want to stay alone here for some time. Go to the palace to inform them that they need to prepare dinner, and find someone that will make my intelligent talking parrot for me. I will enter the palace later. Maybe only after the sun has set. I need to be alone now. To think.”

Mee only said “As you wish, your majesty.” And went towards the palace.

Rhoda watched Mee getting further away and waited. When it seemed to her that Mee got far enough away, and will not hear her, Rhoda sat on the bench that was surrounded by the arbor and started crying bitterly. She didn’t want to do it in front of Mee, but the acknowledgement that she can’t know anything about herself, and even the things she knew might be wrong, because they were only dreams, made her feel lost and miserable. And to add to that, since she discovered the meaning of the ring, she stopped feeling relaxed.

For long minutes Rhoda kept on crying, feeling deeply sorry for herself. Life seemed to her to be dark and hopeless and her state seemed as bleak as the darkest night.

After crying this way for some time, other thoughts started to rise in her head. She thought that if her dreams were real, as she thought they were, then her state now is much better than it was with the pirates. And to be the demons’ queen wasn’t such a bad thing, considering all. And she didn’t remember her parents’ house, and because of that, she didn’t miss it too much. Still, her eyes kept tearing a few more minutes before she was calm again.

After Rhoda had cried enough, she lifted her watery eyes. The setting sun painted a brilliant display of colors, and the crying cleared the bad feelings from her. She reminded herself the atmosphere that was in the dream, at which she has spoken with her mother about her future. If the astrologers would have predicted for her a bad future, her mother would not have seemed so relaxed while they were talking. Her own state now was reasonable, and her bad time with the pirates she remembered only in a fragmented way and through dreams. All in all it seemed to her that there were enough good things happening to her at the moment, so she could not complain too much. The only thing that she wanted to make sure of was – that no one will know that she cried. Rhoda went to a nearby stream, washed her face thoroughly, and turned towards the palace with emboldened steps.

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Waking up


The end of the 17th chapter

Rhoda opened her eyes, confused, and asked loudly “What do you want?” but then she noticed that she was not on the island but on Belshazzar’s back, and saw that he was starting to lose height and getting ready to land in the garden of her palace, and she breathed with relief.

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The ring


The third part of the 17th chapter

Rhoda came to a bank of one of the little brooks and sat down with her legs dipped in the clear water. The feeling of the water on her feet made her peaceful, and she stared into it, forgetting herself and the entire world. At a certain moment she felt that for some time her eyes were fixed on something shiny that was stuck between the stones at the bottom of the brook. She woke herself from her trance and looked at the shining spot. It wasn’t a ripple on the water’s surface. There really was something in the water. Rhoda went into the water, shivering from the chill, and bent to get the thing that was there. After some effort she managed to free it. It was a simple gold ring, without any ornaments. It came, doubtlessly, from one of the pirates treasures and had fallen on the way to their hiding place, without them noticing its loss. The pirates were very meticulous in everything that they had robbed, treating it like a heirloom which passed in their family for generations. Rhoda decided, with a strong feeling of rebellion, that she will keep this ring for herself. The big problem was – how could she hide it? It was clear that she couldn’t wear it on her finger, where it will be seen immediately. She had to find another way. Rhoda thought for a while. The garment she wore was worn and without pockets. It was mended so many times, as best she could, just so that she will be able to remain dressed. It was clear to her that for as long as the pirates didn’t take her to be sold, they will not give her any proper clothes. The solution was clear – she will sew the ring to the inside of her sleeve. That way no one will know the ring is in her possession. Rhoda hurried towards the pirate camp in order to follow her plan, holding the ring in her tightly closed fist.

When she got near the camp, Rhoda saw that some of the pirates had already woken up and were gathered around the table, eating, drinking and cursing. She didn’t want them to notice her, so she sneaked around to get to the room the pirates had given her. She was about to go in, when one of them saw her and called “Come here you prinzesa! My pitcher is empty!” With great haste she dropped the ring into a thorny bush that grew near the entrance to her room and hurried to fill his pitcher. A nervous pirate, at an early morning hour, after a wild night of drinking and cursing was not something you could ignore.

When Rhoda got to the breakfast table every one of the pirates made demands of her, and the following hours passed while she was brushing shoes, combing mustaches, serving food and drink and cursing (in her heart) each and every one of the pirates she took care of, with the most aggressive curses she could think of.

When the blond pirate woke up too, and grabbed her shoulder to make her turn to him and give him the pitcher, Rhoda woke up from her sleep, probably because she slept a little to the right, and her shoulder hit the side of the seat.

On the pirates’ island


Another part of the 17th chapter


Rhoda wandered along the coast of the pirate’s island, very early in the morning. She already cleaned all their night pots, and had time to go around the forest for a while and eat the fruit that grew in it. The night before, the pirates drank and behaved savagely until very late, and when they fell asleep it was, as usual, because of their drunkenness and not because of their tiredness. Her experience taught her that after a night like yesterday, the pirates will sleep until a very late hour of the day, and will wake up, the lot of them, irritable like wasps and ready to fight over every small thing. After nights like this, she made sure that anything they might connect to her, will be in the right state. And even things that weren’t necessarily connected to her. Whatever needed washing – was washed, and whatever needed to be put in its right place – was in its right place. The food leftovers – arranged in an attractive way on the table, so they will be able to start eating as soon as they wake up, and pitchers full of beer – so they will be able to start drinking, even before they started looking for her. She learned that this is the way things must be, as a result of quite a few very unpleasant incidents that she had gone through.

At first, when she was certain that in no time a ship will come to free her; she didn’t tend to cooperate with the pirates’ orders at all. She was angry and threatened them. They simply laughed in her face. When they ordered her to clean the night pots the first time, she said proudly “Me? What are you thinking to yourselves?” As a response, they simply emptied the night pots on her head, while saying, one after the other “This is what happens to anyone who disobeys us!” while she stood there, screaming and vomiting with disgust in all the scum. That was the last time Rhoda refused to clean the night pots. She learned the rest of her duties in a similar way, until she realized that no one is going to come and save her.

On the same day that Rhoda understood that no one is going to save her, she started to plan options of escape. She used the pirates’ hours of drunkenness and their days of absence, when they sailed their ship, to better know the island. At first, some of the pirates wanted to take her along on their voyages, because they wanted to have someone to sport with on the way. But the blond said – No. He thought that she had to be kept in a good condition for them to be able to get a good price for her. During their raids on ships, she might have been damaged in the heat of battle, and then her cost would drop dreadfully. Her body had to be kept whole. That gave her a lot of quiet and lonely hours, promised that she will not be beaten too hard, and kept them from doing her anything that will leave marks on her body. The rest of the girls that were with her, were sold long ago in the slave markets. For her the pirates hoped to earn a fortune, and that’s why they intended to take her to the largest city in the richest country, and to offer her privately to the most important people there. They knew that most of the city’s people will not be interested in the place where she came from, only her looks and education counted. Since they reached that town only rarely, selling her was delayed for now.

Back in the palace


The beginnig of the 17th chapter:


“How long will it take until we get back to the palace?” asked Rhoda as soon as Belshazzar was steady on the route that Mee has showed him.

“I think that a short while after noon we will be there, your majesty.” Said Mee.

“And do you think that there will be someone there that I can ask to make me the parrot?” asked Rhoda. At least for the meantime, she didn’t want to think about anything serious. Mee’s story about King Solomon made her feel deeply uncomfortable. That is, Rhoda wanted to feel that she can trust Mee with her eyes closed, and it seemed that there was a good reason that made her able to really trust her. But she would have liked the reason to be that she, Rhoda, was a beloved queen, and not because the option that the demons will not be able to live normally – was worse. She thought about this a few minutes, trying to understand what really made her feel so bad about what Mee has told her. What in the things Mee said made her feel so uncertain? At first Rhoda couldn’t think of any reasonable explanation. But then she grasped that, actually, what Mee said to her suggests that if someone will come, and the demons will think that he will be more cooperative with them than her, and will allow them to do tricks again, maybe they will switch him for her. Rhoda decided that she will not take the ring off her finger, just in case.

“Of course there will be someone there who will do it, your majesty.” Said Mee.

For a minute Rhoda didn’t understand what was Mee talking about. She was so absorbed in her thoughts that she thought Mee was saying that of course there will be someone who will replace her as queen of the demons. But then she remembered their talk of the parrot and nodded. Rhoda had the impression that Mee didn’t suspect the kind of feelings her story had aroused in Rhoda. It seemed as if she didn’t even remember the thing they had spoken of not so long ago. Rhoda thought that it was better that way, and decided to change the subject of their discussion.

“I want you to teach me the names and uses of other trees and plants that we will see.” She told Mee, and Mee pointed, from time to time, at a tree or a bush that they hadn’t seen yet, and told Rhoda its name and the things that could be done with it.

They kept on flying until the sun stood at the top of the sky and it hurt Rhoda’s eyes to look outside of the canopy. She told Mee that she wanted to sleep, closed her eyes and fell asleep almost immediately.

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